It’s hard to imagine that the first step towards automated postcard mailing was made back in the 15th century. In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg invented the renowned printing press that significantly simplified print production. Since then, the biggest minds have made a wide range of innovations to build the postcard printing industry we have now.
With the appearance of the Internet and web solutions, the printing process has risen to a new level. Today, customers can design postcards directly on websites, benefit from variable data printing, order custom postcards without going to a physical printer, use different types of printing techniques, and much more.
When everything becomes automated and, hence, easier, there is only one problem left. How do you choose the right approach to postcard printing? Different types of printing techniques have different costs and applications.
On the bright side, a reliable printing vendor will always familiarize you with various methods of printing. If you want to carry out your independent research on digital printing, Inkit has got you covered. Keep reading today’s article to find out more about:
- Web-to-print industry: Peculiarities and different types of printing techniques used
- Features of postcards. What you need to know before launching postcard printing
- Automated postcard mailing and personalized postcards with Inkit
Web-to-Print Industry. Peculiarities and Different Types of Printing Techniques Used
Web-to-print, remote publishing, or Web2Print is commercial printing through web services (e.g. websites) to recreate digital images on a physical surface. It is equally effective for postcard printing or printing images on clothes, photographic paper, plastic items, etc.
Unlike the traditional printing technique based on one set of printing plates, web-to-print allows printing companies to create hundreds of unique items. The printed content is tailored to every customer. Besides, graphic designers, the general public, and anyone engaged in the printing process get advanced control over the final results. Last-minute changes can be easily reviewed online to approve them before large-volume printing is launched.
5 Different Types of Printing Techniques Used in the Web-to-Print Industry
It’s worth noting that modern digital printing has a stunning number of applications. You can print on almost any surface, reproducing complex images from your laptop or smartphone. Nevertheless, to produce a quality print in all cases, you should know that there are different types of printing techniques with distinct technical characteristics. Here are the most popular web-to-print approaches:
Printing Technique #1: Offset Lithography
Today, this printing method is largely used to print on wood, cloth, canvas, and other rough-surfaced materials. Nevertheless, since offset printing is quite versatile, it is also suitable for the mass-production of books and other paper items. In offset lithography, an image on a metal plate is transferred to rubber blankets (rollers) between which the paper passes. Despite the variety of printing approaches and the long history, offset lithography ensures one of the best quality of color consistency and clarity.
Printing Techniques #2: Flexography
Flexographic printing is favored for items with continuous patterns. Besides, this approach is well suited for rough surfaces and large areas with a solid color. As a result, among different types of printing techniques, this one is a common choice for gift wrap, wallpapers, food packages, etc. Flexography is a modernized letterpress printing with rotating cylinders wrapped in photopolymer printing plates. It is rarely used for postcard printing.
Printing Technique #3. Digital Printing
To be honest, this printing method is one of our favorites. The digital approach is used for postcard printing, newsletters, menus, and other common print materials. It comprises a wide range of techniques, including laser and inkjet printing. In digital printing, a file with the necessary image is transferred directly to a printer that automatically launches the process. Since there is no need for a printing plate, digital postcard printing may be much more cost-effective than, for example, lithography. It’s a perfect choice for highly customized print items and print on demand.
Printing Technique #4. Screen Printing
In the screen technique, printers use stretched out mesh or fine materials (“screen”) to print an image on an item. Ink is pressed against the screen to transfer the image. Among different types of printing techniques, this one is most commonly chosen to produce fabric banners or add graphics and logos on clothes. Screen printing needs a lot of preparation, so it’s usually recommended for bulk printing of repeat items.
Printing Technique #5. Embossing
This type of printing is used to create raised or sunken designs on paper, metal, and other materials. It’s a long-beloved option for postcard printing and appealing invitations. An embossed print looks very elegant and always attracts a lot of attention.
This isn’t an extensive list of different types of printing techniques. You can also consider using engraving, 3D printing, transfer printing, embroider printing, or large-format printing depending on your goals. Still, the described techniques cover the main print production tasks from postcard printing to fine arts.
Features of Postcards: What You Need to Know Before Launching Postcard Printing
In 2018, the USPS processed over 2 billion presorted postcards. This makes direct mail, and postcards, in particular, one of the most widespread printed media. Postcard printing has a striking marketing potential since no digital channels can change our love for appealing holiday cards, special offers, or coupons. According to the DMA, 52.5% of consumers read the postcards they receive.
In case you decide to launch postcard printing, make sure to consider some key characteristics of postcards:
- Postcard size. Flat surface postcards are usually rectangular mail pieces that range from 4″ x 6″ to 6″ x 11”. To learn more about postcard dimensions, read Inkit’s article on direct mail size.
- Postcard orientation. The images and text on a postcard may be located both horizontally and vertically.
- Postcard paper types. The most popular paper options for postcard printing include gloss, matte, uncoated, UV coated, or recycled.
- Postcard thickness. The paper used for postcard printing usually has 14,16, or 18-pt thickness.
Postcard printing and mailing ensures a much higher response rate than most digital channels. To maximize the result, you can send highly customized cards that reach only the customers who are likely to convert. Such targeting is easy to achieve with automated postcard mailing, which we will describe in more detail below.
Automated Postcard Mailing and Personalized Postcards with Inkit
Inkit is a marketing tool for automated postcard mailing and other types of direct mail marketing. With this service, you can fully automate the mail production process to have custom postcards printed and mailed for you. Just upload your design to Inkit’s postcards builder or customize the existing template to launch postcard printing. To run automated postcard mailing, you will need to upload a mailing list manually to connect Inkit with your CRM or database.
The integration of Inkit with third-party services is a preferable option since it allows you to make automated postcard mailing highly targeted. You get a chance to align automated postcard mailing with online user activity or events. For example, you may send a personalized remarketing postcard to a user who abandoned the cart one day ago. Or deliver a welcome postcard to someone who just subscribed to your loyalty program. The options are almost unlimited.
To learn more about Inkit, check out its features or start using the demo version today.